ROCK AND ROLL, ROCK OR POP? | Revista independiente de música

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What is rock and roll?

This name was given in the fifties to a new music genre that emerged in the US as an evolution of black rhythm and blues as it mixed with white country. Its name comes from the expression that refers to the sexual act in black American slang. Alan Freed, a radio discjockey, coined the term since he found this music so pleasant and dizzying.

Stray Cats – Rock this Town (1981)

This song was composed by Brian Setzer and performed in a rockabilly key, a substyle of early rock and roll. It has a rapid rhythm (inherited from boogie-woogie), electric guitars, and some elements of drums and double bass used as percussion.

What do we designate as rock?

As rock and roll is influenced by other music styles like blues, folk, jazz, or even classical music, it evolves and merges into other substyles. It is then when the term rock is used as a global reference to the combination of all of them.

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Led Zeppelin – Rock and Roll (1971)

This song, composed by Jimmy Page, John Bonham, Robert Plant and John Paul Jones, is a proof of the rock that was so typical during the seventies, which was the precursor of hard rock and heavy rock. The song uses distorted electric guitars and a powerful volume,  inherited from the legacy of the electric rhythm and blues of Chicago and Detroit.  

What is pop?

On the other hand, it was at the end of the fifties when the term pop was given to the style derived from rock and roll as it combines with folk songs and other music styles that were famous at that time. Moreover, for a long time the term pop was also used to refer (in a pejorative sense) to the most comercial popular music, which is still a mistake.

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The Essex Green – This isn’t Farmlife (2006)

Credited to the whole band, this song shows current eclectic pop, which borrows elements from other styles. The band creates short songs with beautiful vocal harmonies, soft guitars and keyboards, and they are written in a basic format with melodic and catchy choruses.

Why do we talk about pop music now?

The English term pop music is the abbreviation for popular music, and it is used to refer in a broad sense to the conglomerate formed by all the styles that make up popular music. This includes: pop, rock, rock and roll, rhythm and blues, soul, folk, jazz, hip-hop, etc.

And why do we keep mentioning pop culture?

Pop culture is the term that designates the group of all artistic activities whose theme revolves around popular culture, as opposed to the elitism of academic or official culture. It includes: pop music, pop art, black novel, science-fiction, graffiti, comic, cinema, television, etc. Important artists within this context are Roy Lichtenstein or Andy Warhol.

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Martha and the Vandellas – Jimmy Mack (1967)

This song was composed by Lamont Dozier and the Holland brothers (Brian and Eddie).

It is an example of soul music, with danceable black rhythms and voices from a gospel choir. The soul style is included in the general term “popular music” or its abbreviation “pop music”.